There are a couple points here worthy of addressing. So in an attempt to be brief going to try to make an attempt at countering some of the points and offering further solutions.
1) The Dark Age, "Don't Understand", Six Days in Fallujah cancellation, and Extra Credits.
As a frame of reference... I am in my mid 30's, family, kids, wife, career in EE with a strong background in Aerospace. Been playing games since pong was new, and use many "video game design" principles in electrical design. Not only have I worked with veterans in a professional capacity, worked as a contractor for military equipment support, but have counseled veterans in many different capacities. Heck, even worked on video game crap.
The Dark Age - fallacy
This argument smacks of a false dichotomy begging an excluded middle. In the information age the available knowledge for software engineering is readily available, education of people including the literacy rate is higher now than it has ever been in human history. The first amendment covers the medium, so in that, and as it is clearly evident, if one wanted to take a picture of a dick, and make a game "dick-tac-toe" and sell it on an Iphone... one is able to do that.
Human beings have never been "free-er" than they are today. If anything is missing today it is a distinct lack of a proper philosophical dialog utilizing empiricism, relying on lazy rationalism and "self evident" common sense... which is simply false. In that I think there is an argument... leading into...
To go further and as a segway to further notation, begging a general consensus in and of itself, is a fallacy. Comprehension (of the masses) is not required for work to progress and continue in any medium. Does the average guy in the street understand fourier waves of enzymatic kinetics? No. Does that stop me from working on those projects? No.
Six Days in Fallujah
I (personally) had some pretty serious issues with this game. Fundamentally the "argument" that I was perceiving appears more like a "muddying the waters", to justify a release of a game depicting a hot button issue for the first intent, of making money. Using the collective conscience of the people engaged in the conflict as a means of sailing a product into a marketplace.
The difficulty here is that of narrative story telling, appears to have been infringed upon. Nothing could of been further from the truth. The point was to use the event to sell a product, not comment on the event itself in a meaningful narrative way. Watching the interviews the developer seemed to want to include the stories of those who fought and died in the conflict to "memorialize" the fighters. Yet they didn't contact those people's families for research of narrative to pursue that avenue... ultimately it was just "some shit they said" at the eleventh hour. Konami... well ultimately it is Konami's call as to what they are going to fund and or not fund... last I checked they were not purveyors of fine art.
It's an investment, and the money went south for the winter. Happens.
Did they get steam rolled on the news? Yep. Was that inevitable? Yep. Had they had done the homework they would of been "ok". They didn't, they wanted to play "artist" and got their shit handed to em. They could of declined the interviews, and rolled right along. They didn't, in that, it "appears" that they tried to play the "media train" game (Electronic Arts is NOTORIOUS for this), to capture some free press and drive up interest.
That all said, considering some of the potentially tough legal difficulties of the project the money people (whom engaged in this to make money) pulled out after weighing the cost of production to yield of sales, to potential bad press and lawsuits, ultimately decided the well was dry.
The developers, believing in their project, are certainly perfectly capable of developing the title using crowd funding, or supporting the project themselves. But they didn't... no money in it. These are not "starving artist" with a story to tell. This is a business, which became sour and was abandoned.
Sadly it became an abandoned outpost for rallying around, some attempt to demonstrate artistic infringement. Nonsense.
Shrug... Mr. Portnow is pretty cool, but I (personally) don't think shit of Daniel Floyd. I don't think shit of his ideas, his exposition, his lazy rhetoric, and his contradictory statements. If he wants to make games, he should just go make them; not sit around and talk nonsense about them. It's just my personal take on it, not worth much.
Have controversial elements of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars been used as inspiration in video games? Yep. Battlefield 3 (F/A-18 scene) and the wiki-leaks attack helicopter incident share very similar aesthetics. Didn't stop them, they didn't go on the news... that's the point.
-I fail to see anything being held back here.
Ultimately I think perhaps you see 6 days as being a narrative opportunity, I certainly see it as a cash grab. Neither of us know much beyond our scant evidence which way it "would" of been. Employing Occam's razor ... I am of the opinion, cash grab, narrative being secondary or tertiary "at best". Had they had just made the damn thing, and let the work speak for itself, maybe it would of been great. I really doubt it. It was bullshit. Always was.
To qualify the "narrative vision", I would need it explained to me why 6 days utilizes "Regenerating Health", "run and gun mechanics". Sure it had a "consultant" but what was his purpose? Give legitimacy to the project, nothing more.
The writer of "Red Dawn" worked on that... thing was a joke. Part of the advertisement, nothing more.
2) Industry Purse Strings
I agree, but this is in many industries not just video games. Having of personally worked in and around almost a dozen different industries in my time, it's the same story everywhere.
Innovation is a four letter word, usually spelled $$$$.
Heck, when I work on projects I may spend as much as 6 weeks to 6 months researching patents "just" to avoid potential lawsuits.
Look at this asshole:
I remember some douche-bag filing a patent on "mirror surfaces" in 3d spaces... can't take a dump without getting sued.
3) "Journalistic Integrity"
No Disagreement here, but that is really not anything new. It's a business, gaming websites facilitate that business.
Patcher from GT said some time ago that the biggest problem of the video game industry was "chasing success", recently he said it was the "gamer" (consumer themselves) that whined.
There may be a paradigm shift occurring in this industry as the industry becomes more of an industry. I don't disagree with that. It (video games) are becoming a "big time" business. It has attracted many sharks.
Best part is, the individual, or small teams are still able to produce a product that may get some time in the sun, making some money outside of the big publisher chain. That's pretty awesome. It's always been that way though. Share-ware was doing this ages ago. It's how I.D. software got it's start.
Publisher does not "owe" anything to anyone. Consumer does not "owe" anything to anyone. A developer (as artist) (as independent) does not owe anything to anyone.
The key here... self education. Call bullshit on bullshit.
Downside as someone interested in making a living in this field...
As "Sway" Angelina Jollie said in "Gone in 60 Seconds"... "It's twice as hard when it's honest".
People been "copying" stuff since stuff was able to be "copied". There are a lot of problems with it one both sides of the debate... on many sides of the debate. Nature of the beast... consequence of the industry... could write whole papers on it and never get anywhere.
Realistically from my end the suggestion I offer is "make your own shit". Heck I use Aurora toolset to test out ideas all the time, many that have next to nothing to do with games.
As I have said, and will say again, what is it supposed to be doing, where is it supposed to be going?
It's never been easier to make content at a respectable level. This industry is "wide ass" open. Look at aviation, man, you gatta have DEEEEEEEP pockets to get anything done in that field. Video games? A FUCKING JOKE, any asshole with a calculator may make some content and sell it on. Looking for a guarantee? Nope. That's not going to happen and that is life.
Even Leonardo da Vinci died in poverty.
The myth... is the myth of the artist, video games as art, nonsense and bullshit. They can be, but 99% of the time, that is not the intention of the product. Perhaps an emergent quality of a product, like an old Jaguar, or classic rare game, a cult film.
Maybe, just maybe, it could be... but this medium is EXTREMELY technical. Borrows so heavily from so many different mediums that the only "decent" word to describe it is "trans-medium"... and the individual has to "know" not just speculate, but "know" a ton of shit to build from the ground up, anything new or worth while.
It takes capitalistic societies to have ever made this stuff in the first place, it WILL take market forces to clean it up. We just have to let the market work and give it time, self educate, make our own stuff.
I struggle with the debate, cause I just don't see one.
--edit to add some details.